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Technology Vision

NEC established a technology vision as guidance for our research and development to create new value. How can we evolve the future technology? What kind of innovation do we bring to society? NEC addresses the realization of a brighter future, let us explore our outlook on future technology.

Continuously seeking technologies to create social value

NEC will provide new value through Digital Transformation while resolving the problems facing the world, society, and customers. In the past, NEC promoted the creation of social value based on ICT, but taking advantage of digital data has become even more important for the future. We identified three major processes in the use of digital data. The first process is digitizing the real world and visualizing it in the cyber world. The second is to analyze the problems of the real world using the captured digital data. The third is to apply prescriptions based on the analysis results to the real world in order to achieve new value. The three types of AI that support this series of processes are recognition AI, prediction and optimization AI, and reasoning AI— NEC will strengthen AI technologies to a level that exceeds human capabilities to solve particular problems. For example, the technologies of recognition AI help to understand the real world by employing a wide range of information that humans cannot perceive from infrared or millimeter waves that are outside the five human senses to vast amounts of advanced information from high- speed camera imaging. In addition, we develop secure ICT platform technologies that execute these AI processes at low cost. In order to commercialize these technologies as useful solutions for society, global value co-creation is essential. Through these research and development activities, NEC aims to realize a prosperous, bright society in which AI and people can cooperate to provide greater value.

ICT's social value and source of added value

Data science

Recognition AI

Realizes a deep understanding of humans and things by combining a wide variety of sensors

Today, sensor technology is growing; therefore, it is possible to bring together a space that humans cannot recognize directly with information that far exceeds the five senses or human cognitive abilities into the cyber world. By applying advanced AI to this vast volume of information, NEC makes it possible to capture information that people cannot grasp at a deep level inside a thing or a human. NEC's face recognition technology is capable of reconciling a picture taken ten years ago with a current image for authentication that is independent of race and age, as well as identifying individuals hidden by makeup or a malicious disguise. This technology has been evaluated as the best performance in the world by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the United States. In the future, we will further develop recognition AI technology to recognize more in-depth information, such as a person's psychological state. This will help to prevent crimes instead of just finding a suspect after an incident.

Prediction and optimization AI

Automated technology achieves complex data analysis that does not rely on experts

NEC is focusing on the social solutions business, but it cannot solve many problems at the same time because of the limited number of data scientists who can analyze the data with customers. Thus, NEC will develop advanced automated technologies that can easily perform the data analysis without the support of experts. We will also develop optimization technology to control the system while predicting the changes required in the target system. These technologies enable dynamic prediction and optimization in response to ever-changing situations. For example, AI automates order processing by efficiently generating the demand forecast model of thousands of products in a retail store in a short period of time in order to increase the overall profitability of the store.

Reasoning AI

Supports decision making by presenting appropriate suggestions and reasons based on fragmented information

Many social issues are unknown problems without big data or complex problems that could have several possible answers. To solve such problems, the final decision must be made by humans based on the advanced assistance of AI. NEC will develop reasoning AI that learns while taking associations among information into account to create and validate huge numbers of hypotheses at high speed. This enables AI to solve complex problems by presenting appropriate suggestions or reasons to people even if the AI only has fragmentary knowledge or observational information. For example, even in the event of an unprecedented cyberattack, reasoning AI can offer appropriate suggestions to security analysts for a rapid response to the attack.

ICT platforms

AI platform

Streamlines the learning process while managing hardware

AI processing is broken down into two phases: learning and inference (execution), and in many cases, the computational load of learning is enormous. For example, image recognition requires learning about 10 million images in a week in advance; actual recognition processing takes approximately 0.1 seconds to complete. NEC will accelerate the learning process in AI using a variety of appropriate hardware, including a GPU that is suitable for high-speed deep learning, a vector processor with wide memory bandwidth suitable for machine learning other than deep learning, and a FPGA with a performance per unit power consumption that is about 100 times better than a CPU. This improves the processing capacity by two digits and allows the learning processes to take place on a single server that previously required dozens of servers.

Security

AI and the digital twin ensure the safety and security of life

Cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated, and the attacks extend to the physical systems, such as commercial facilities, in addition to public services that provide electricity, gas, water, and sewerage. The attacks are diversified and often use internal crime. In order to protect a system that must not have its supply terminated against a variety of attacks, it is important to take advantage of the digital twin, including the physical system and people, to enhance security measures by continuously implementing a huge number of simulated attacks as predicted by AI and simulated defenses as created by AI. In addition, it is critical to encrypt the communication and authenticate the IoT device to prevent the invasion of a virus. NEC will take advantage of AI and the digital twin with authentication encryption technology that passed the second screening in an international competition. As a result, perfect security measures are being implemented that would be impossible to implement manually in a system.

Data sharing platform

Shares a wide variety of data to make the entire society more efficient

The sharing of data to promote the use of public data will become increasingly more important as the driver in transforming society in the future. However, most private data cannot be easily shared because of privacy protection or conflicts of interest. NEC has achieved computation technology that can conceal the original data, which is more than ten times faster than any other company’s method. The combination of this computation technology and a system to ensure the safety of programs makes it possible to leverage private data without worrying about data leaks. We will provide this system as a data- sharing platform so that efficiency across the entire society can be improved for the development of new pharmaceuticals, efficient transportation solutions, and reduction of losses in manufacturing and logistics.